Rationale of the strategy
Through increasing differentiation of skills and globalization, it has become necessary to continually update knowledge and competences to ensure an individual’s life development and self-fulfilment. To ensure that Austria maintains its high standard of living and social cohesion, it is necessary to further enhance citizens’ high levels of qualification and to draw less educated people into the modern knowledge society. Austria’s Lifelong Learning Strategy is guided by five core principles: life phase orientation (all ages), placing learners at the centre (flexibility of learning), lifelong guidance (facilitating the learning process), competence orientation (recognition of informal learning), and promotion of participation in lifelong learning (enhancing the motivation to learn).
Concept of lifelong learning
Responding to rapid changes in the economy and society, lifelong learning (“lebensbegleitendes Lernen”) aims to actively deal with the dynamic of changing environments and to take advantage of new opportunities in the work, social and cultural contexts.
The strategy is structured along ten lines of action:
- Strengthening pre-school education;
- Providing basic education and equal opportunities within the school system;
- Providing second-chance education free of charge, helping to ensure basic competences for adults;
- Expanding alternative transition systems to the world of work for young people;
- Offering guidance to improve work-life balance;
- Strengthening ‘community education’ approaches through community services and civil society organizations;
- Promoting learner-friendly work environments;
- Providing continuing education to promote employability and competitiveness;
- Enriching quality of life though education in the post-occupational phase of life;
- Introducing procedures for validation of non-formal and informal competences in all educational sectors.
Main targets and measures
The Austrian Strategy for Lifelong Learning includes all levels of the education system, from early childhood to continuing education, including the retirement phase of life.
Strategic goals to be achieved by 2020 include:
- Adopting a national legal framework for pre-school education (by 2014);
- Reducing by half the number of pupils at risk of illiteracy;
- Reducing elementary school dropout rates;
- Increasing the proportion of apprentices who gain a university entrance qualification;
- Reducing the rate of youth unemployment (15–24 years);
- Increasing the rate of employment among elderly persons (55–64 years);
- Increasing participation rates in non-formal continuing education in rural areas;
- Enhancing participation in continuing education for low-qualified employees;
- Increasing the number of higher education graduates;
- Increasing general participation in continuing education;
- Establishing quality standards for educational programs targeting retired persons;
- Implementing the NQF (by 2012) and a strategy for the validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning (by 2015).
Particular feature of the strategy
The Austrian Strategy for Lifelong Learning promotes learning opportunities for persons in the retirement phase. The goal is to increase participation in education within this target group. To ensure high quality and availability of education, all educators working with older learners will be expected to obtain competences relevant to this age-group. Also, they should provide guidance and information about educational opportunities. Education should be offered close to people’s homes, taking into account intergenerational and technology-enhanced learning. This approach will promote innovative pedagogic models and improved qualification of educators. Investments will be required to improve the existing learning infrastructure. Quality measures will be developed and fundamental research on the issue will be intensified.
References to other relevant documents:
- Commission of the European Communities. 2000. Memorandum for Lifelong Learning
- Commission of the European Communities. 2001. Mitteilung der Kommission: Einen europäischen Raum des lebenslangen Lernens schaffen
- European Union. 2006. Schlüsselkompetenzen für lebenslanges Lernen: ein europäischer Referenzrahmen
- European Union. 2008. Der europäische Qualifikationsrahmen für lebenslanges Lernen
- European Union. 2009. Strategischer Rahmen für die europäische Zusammenarbeit auf dem Gebiet der allgemeinen und beruflichen Bildung
- European Commission. 2010. Europe 2020: a European strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth
- European Commission. 2013. Education and Training in Europe 2020: Responses from the EU member states
Stakeholders involved in the development of the strategy:
- Federal Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur)
- Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Wirtschaft)
- Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium für Arbeit, Soziales und Konsumentenschutz)
- Federal Ministry of Family and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie und Jugend)
Further readings and web links:
- Austrian Federal Ministry of Education and Women’s Affairs: http://www.bmukk.gv.at/enfr
- Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy: http://www.en.bmwfw.gv.at
Federal Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Federal Ministry of Science and Research, Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection; Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth